Crowds acknowledge gift of Midland Cultural Centre 0
A few hundred people put their hands together in a collective expression of gratitude Saturday to thank Reinhart Weber for his gift to the people of North Simcoe.
Described by lawyer Fred Hacker as "one of my heroes," Weber was greeted by thunderous applause during the opening ceremonies of Midland's Cultural Centre.
"I personally am proud and very happy that we could from the Weber Foundation turn over to the town this gift that will last for many, many years," Weber said during a brief ceremony in which Mayor Gordon McKay was presented with a symbolic key to building.
While $7.5 million of the construction cost was covered privately by the Weber Foundation, the centre is now owned by the Town of Midland and will be operated by the volunteer-driven Midland Cultural Centre Inc.
Hacker recalled that the Cultural Centre sits on the site of the old Roxy theatre. Had it not been for Weber, he said, "we would still be looking at the Roxy.
"On Thursday evening we had all of the construction workers, contractors, material suppliers, board members, committee members, the people who worked on the design and construction of the facility and senior volunteers here - more than 200 people - so we could say thank you to them.
"Hundreds of thousands of hours went into what you see before you today. All of it led up to this moment. All of those people who were working on this building were driven by the concept that this morning we could turn this facility over to you - the people of North Simcoe.
"The concept behind this facility is that the Midland cultural centre will be available to all the people of our area to pursue their interests in the visual arts and the performing arts. We'll have entertainment going on here, we'll have classes going on.
"We are hoping this will become a facility where the community will come together, where people can celebrate their talents and the talents of others," he added.
The MCC has been described as unique because it has art galleries, teaching facilities, a performing arts theatre, an event centre/dining complex and a café all under one roof.
Opening ceremonies were also held Saturday by the Quest Art School and Gallery, which is housed in the Cultural Centre. Sharon MacKinnon, Quest's president, also paid tribute to Weber and his wife.
The Huronia Players opened their season on May 24 with the premiere of "Our Town" in the 125-seat theatre, which includes a huge stage, plenty of wing space, a green room and an upstairs a rehearsal room. .
The day-to-day operations will be managed by five committees, namely, Finance, Marketing, Facilities, Operations and Volunteers.
Hundreds of volunteers are being recruited and trained to run the Centre.
A recent study by a think tank at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management suggests the new cultural centre will help Midland's economy.